Summer-time is almost here, and with it comes the vexing question as to how to occupy one’s children when the school gates close. Not every household can afford to employ a strict governess who is as adept with the cane as she is with multiplication tables, and workplaces these days look poorly on child labour, even if that means that youngsters miss out on valuable lessons concerning the operation of industrial machinery. Leaving baby with the servants is only to be considered if you wish for your offspring to receive an education in gin-drinking and sailor’s tattoos, so it seems that the remaining option is for one parent to supervise the children themselves. The thought of spending the summer months with your shrieking brood may be frightful at first, but if you can occasionally refrain from thrashing their insolent behinds I promise you may learn a great deal, even if this is only that you are possessed of faulty genes and should have joined the priesthood.
A child’s mind is soft: mould it like putty
Parents often ask Nanny: how may I occupy the simple mind of a child? There is only so long that one can read aloud from the Old Testament before becoming hoarse of throat, and it is likely to be a fruitless exercise engaging the young in a game of canasta. I regret that today’s society looks so unfavourably on parents who dose the child with sleeping medicine – it never harmed any of the 100 children in my care, less than a dozen of whom ended up in debtor’s prison or the merchant navy. To soak up the boundless and infuriating energy of the young it is tempting to let them frolic in the outdoors, but without supervision frolicking can be a dangerous road, one that leads ultimately to vice, fornication and a career playing trombone in the music halls of Paris. Perish the thought. Instead, I recommend that one devise a rigorous seven day plan for wholesome activities that keep idle thumbs and sweaty palms from seeking the devil’s pernicious trouser-tickling, as the young are wont to do. For your assistance, I have listed choice suggestions. They will fill the child’s brain as much as a cook fills a blancmange mould, oozing into hidden corners with a nutritious pudding made of learning, morals and a sense of duty. Eat up, or Nanny will have to hit you with the spoon again.
Forsake the idiot lantern: instead read a book or periodical
Many parents today are content to park their future heir in front of the glowing box that lurks in the corner of their parlour, spewing great wickedness and adverts for confused.com. There impressionable minds will be swayed by the diabolical adventures of Master SpongeBob Squarepants, and witness firsthand the moral depravity of Hollyoaks, Neighbours and Countdown. It is no wonder that so many grow up addicted to glue-sniffing or heavy metal. Instead of perverting young minds with salacious music videos or minor celebrities eating grasshoppers, why not take the opportunity to introduce them to the world of classic literature? Latin may represent a challenge to younger learners, but there is nothing that will focus attention like the threat of another evening locked in the woodshed. Do not believe the rot that says that a child will only read if it is exposed to the heathen blasphemy of Harry Potter – your youngster is far less likely to grow into a chronic masturbator or leader of a biker gang if they spend their days with a biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel or the works of Pliny the Elder. As for Twilight, I do not recommend it – it promotes vegetarianism, a river which flows downhill to socialism and bigamy.
Visit a museum. Learn in hushed silence
I consider it a great shame that Jersey Museum has pursued a faddish and modern path of late. I am a home educator of many years standing and I can promise you that children learn very little from fashionable ‘interactive exhibits’, which merely encourage them to touch things. I am sure I do not need to remind readers of the danger of touching things, whether it be an electrified cattle fence or one’s infernal, tumescent nether regions. No, it is an unfashionable truth that the best kind of exhibit for learning is a collection of deceased creatures, either stuffed or pickled in jars. If Jersey Heritage are not willing to educate the younger generation through the quiet contemplation of a lamprey in formaldehyde, then you should do as I do and visit the private collections of distinguished gentlemen in St Lawrence. “Look, child, a dissected sheep’s lung. Gaze upon it and wonder.” That said, the small museum at Elizabeth Castle does have the most impressive collection of ornamental military snuffboxes, and at high tide a misbehaving boy-child can be suitably punished by being forced to ride home outside the ferry-boat.
with a pen-friend
The modern child has developed an unreasonable and wicked expectation that they be allowed to spend the school holidays communing with strangers and vagabonds upon the internet, an activity which will inevitably result in the uptake of gutter humour, the purchase of methamphetamine drugs and exchanging shirtless pictures of the cast of One Direction. I rebuke this in the name of Jesus. As an alternative, perhaps your youthful charges could be encouraged to pursue a stimulating correspondence with other youngsters in the far-flung corners of the globe. Providing the recipients are suitably-vetted attendees of elite, English-speaking boarding schools it is a wonderful way to learn about foreign cultures. Did you know that in Liechtenstein poor people are made to live in wicker cottages beneath the bridges, and in Singapore yawning aloud can be punished with a public whipping? “Oh Nanny, let us visit beautiful Singapore one day and see a public whipping with our very own eyes!” It warms my heart to hear it.
Follow the path of Ms. Marie Curie:conduct home experiments with science
With a solid grounding in long division, ancient greek and the theories of phrenology, an older child is at last ready to begin a more active form of learning. At long last, they may be trusted to spend some time each day that does not involve conjugating verbs in silence and taking cold baths. I will leave it up to you as to whether a child’s first exposure to science is through taxidermy, basic chemical reagents or amateur brain surgery, but whatever path they take I would advise that a first laboratory be set up in the servants’ quarters, where accidental fires are less troublesome and a ready supply of experimental subjects is always available. Yes, some so-called ‘childcare experts’ would recommend that uranium isotopes are not a suitable plaything for an eight year-old boy, but those people have clearly never nurtured the thirst for knowledge that has resulted in Nanny being presented with a re-animated man-slave sewn together from the grisly pieces of deceased kitchen porters. Truly, I was so proud every single time that happened.
Whatever activities you choose, I wish you success in your endeavours. If your child remains obstinate and noisy even after my advice, there is always boarding school, summer in a bauxite mine or the option of exiling them to the Australian dust-bowl. Good luck.